Updated: May 13
In this interview with landscape architect Bettina Marten, we talk about how important outdoor areas are and why the pandemic situation will increase their importance. Adapted to the new security needs of customers, it is necessary to change: this time in the outside.
The new normal will be outdoors. Not just because spring is just around the corner, but because COVID-19 wants it that way.
Scientifically speaking, we are less likely to contract the virus outdoors. The statistics prove it. There is less danger in contact with others than indoors. According to Gerhard Scheuch, the danger is even zero. For restaurateurs and business owners, this means rethinking. Looking not only forward, but outward. How best to go about upgrading terraces/ gardens/ rooftops/ waiting areas. That's what we're talking about.
1. Bettina, you are half German, half Spanish and grew up here in Barcelona. For the past 15 years, you've been serving your clients in the private sector but also hotels, restaurants and companies with large outdoor spaces. What has changed since Covid-19?
After the initial shock, people are again concerned with the future. A trend that we will be more outdoors, will have to, has also led to rethinking. We work with sustainable methods at bmlandscapes. This connects very well with the new wellness and Mindfulness thinking. People are walking more consciously through nature, opening their eyes, seeing the details, noticing nuances. The birds, the variety of plants and colors in the change of seasons. There is a greater appreciation and attention. Nature is In- the ideal place to recharge.
2. Can you say that "The Power of Now", the power of the moment, is now being actively used to drive landscape change projects? More so than before the crisis? Has the new awareness already arrived that open space is going to become something very special for all of us? For customers, guests and people like you and me?
This is a good point. In the past, value was already placed on a good ambience and thus a feel-good garden, but that was reserved for the premium segment alone. We know chillout, lounge concepts from more luxurious spa and wellness hotels. However, entrepreneurs from all sectors are now starting to rethink and adapt this concept to their own business model. I help them to do so. This trend will be with us for a long time. Even after the pandemic, because it is part of the new customer experience.
3. To avoid the contagion and also the fear of too much closeness in larger groups, e.g. in restaurants, terraces, gardens and rooftops are now the only ways out. A new space for alternatives and creative concepts is emerging. How do you go about effectively helping the industry most affected by the pandemic? Do you have a process?
On the one hand, there are no concrete forecasts when normality will return to 100 percent, but on the other hand, there is a need for action right now. Anyone who waits will have lost out as soon as curfews come into force. And people will start going to restaurants again. I say there are many possibilities, simple details such as a selection of plants perfectly adapted to the concept and climate, a harmonious design and everything in harmony with the location. The important thing is the planning and the approach: part of the customer experience is the right ambience and the design of the "green zone". Low maintenance, thus lower costs, is important. And the projects can be implemented in phases. The customer also appreciates the change, is allowed to witness how a new garden is created and thus becomes part of it.
4. Do you agree with me when I say that the customer has become more open, more curious? It's about experiencing instead of just consuming and about development instead of perfection. Should you involve your clients' customers, i.e. guests and visitors, in the design process? Keyword: start surveys, ask for preferences and ideas. Do you prefer a BBQ area or a wellness and relaxation area? Do you also have the courage to get in touch with these questions? How do you see it?
This is my first important point in the analysis. What is the guest's or customer's outlook? What is his first impression? Where does he look first? What are the movement flows in the object itself? And where are the weak points that can be fixed? No matter whether the fine-tuning, as you put it, with the small but effective touch-ups or the holistic total change. Yes, and the task of the operator is to determine beforehand: What do my customers want? Putting yourself in the customer's shoes and collecting direct feedback in advance are the basis for success in the implementation of a botanical project.
5. Do you observe a tendency to transport the Mediterranean vacation feeling? Lavender scent, olive trees, aloe vera. It makes you long for the sun, the beach and the sea. Can this be a good bridging, sustainably put people in a good mood and counteract the not being allowed to travel ? What are the concrete possibilities for entrepreneurs?
As a landscape architect, I naturally deal with the vision of the location, combine elements and also accompany my clients in the process of trying out new things. Together we weigh up whether external conditions are suitable and which plants from the Mediterranean region are suitable for, for example, terraces or rooftops in Germany. Basically, I find that people react very positively to a Mediterranean concept.
Mediterranean concept. Unfortunately, there is often a lack of experience, expertise or
an authentic implementation of the details of the Mediterranean ambience theme. I work with partners in Germany who are on site and directly supervise the projects after planning.
Better get into outdoor space planning now, because :
When designing the atmosphere, it is important to know that the needs of the desired clientele have changed fundamentally. Especially now in the pandemic, when it comes to safety, people are more attracted to the outdoors. However, the wrong atmosphere can have an unfavourable effect by driving customers away. Therefore, you should always strive to create an atmosphere in the outdoor areas as well, not just the indoor areas, that fairly reflects your brand and resonates with the clientele it serves.
The atmosphere, the ambiance, the detail of the garden and patio design plays a crucial role in its success.
If you would like to hear the first part of the entire podcast interview, follow the link:
Bettina Marten, Podcast Interview, German Languages
Podcast AI AND THEN? In 5 tips, there are the right, decisive steps, especially at the beginning of the project, to beautify the exterior and implement it successfully.
It's all about new customer concepts in conjunction with design. How you can redesign the outdoor customer experience while remaining flexible yourself and always adapting to the changing conditions of the pandemic.
I wish you valuable insights.
If you have any questions about new concepts and innovative possibilities, just send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact landscape architect Bettina Marten: email@example.com
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For those interested:
Right next to the Botanical Garden in Milan is the boutique hotel Bvlgari, Hotels & Resorts. Tastefully and impressively, the garden has been designed. Milan's green oasis, just good enough for the who's who of Milan's fashion industry. Botany in harmony with architecture and utility. Wonderfully stylish and everything at a distance. For a drink at any moment.